Medigene, RXi strike research deal to improve TCRs; Bristol-Myers pays PsiOxus $15M milestone for trial-ready oncolytic virus

→ A preclinical research collaboration has brought Marlborough, MA-based RXi Pharmaceuticals and Germany’s Medigene together in hopes of improving Medigene’s adaoptive T-cell cancer therapies. The plan is to integrate tiny RXi’s self-delivering RNAi technology into Medigene’s process to produce receptor-modified T cells, which can in turn be directed against a predefined tumor antigen. “The use of our immuno-oncology sd-rxRNA compounds with their receptor-modified T cells could potentially create a next generation of very powerful adoptive cell therapies against serious cancers that currently are difficult to target,” said RXi CEO Geert Cauwenbergh in a statement.

→ European biotech argenx is launching a $150 million offering of its shares in the US. The company will use the cash to further develop its pipeline in autoimmune diseases and cancer. Argenx has an autoimmune program called ARGX-113, which is currently in three Phase II clinical trials. The drug is being tested in myasthenia gravis, immune thrombocytopenia, and pemphigus vulgaris. The company’s American Depositary Shares are currently listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under stock stymbol $ARGX, while its ordinary shares are on Euronext Brussels.

→ Oxford biotech PsiOxus Therapeutics has earned a $15 million milestone payment from partner Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) $BMY for scoring approval of their Clinical Trial Application for NG-348, an “armed” oncolytic virus for the treatment of solid tumors. The deal between the two companies was first written up in December 2016, when BMS paid PsiOxus a $50 million upfront payment in a licensing agreement worth up to $936 million (plus royalties). After preclinical development of NG-348, BMS is taking over global clinical development and commercialization. PsiOxus says its oncoloytic virus therapy uses a modified adenovirus that replicates within tumor cells and not within normal tissue, stimulating an immune response in the tumor microenvironment.

Portola $PTLA announced today that the EMA’s Committee for Medical Products for Human Use has requested additional information regarding the Marketing Authorization Application for betrixaban. The drug, which was approved in the US in June as Bevyxxa with mixed assessment, prevents venous thromboembolism (aka blood clotting) in high-risk, acutely ill patients. The company did not specify what the CHMP wants, but said they believe existing clinical data will be able to address the questions, and expect an opinion later in the first quarter of 2018.

With additional reporting by Brittany Meiling.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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